Will's Monthly Platform Update - July 2021

July 16, 2021

We’ve been relentless about innovating in two particular areas we’ve heard that you care about most. The first is making the quality of the generated content fantastic. The second is making the experience of working with the AI much easier, faster and more obvious. This should add up to the outcomes we know you want… maximum ROAS and creative quality at minimum time and $$$ investment. Here goes!

Fantastic quality of generated content

1. Generation quality improvements

“Ideas” & output variety. We are now referring to each generated concept as an “idea” to reflect its uniqueness and potential to perform if tested. It also simplifies our language! To back this up we have increased the thresholds for uniqueness between generated ideas to maximise diversity. 

Animations & layouts. We have added dozens of new layouts and increased the production value of the animations automatically applied by the system. You should notice they are smoother, more natural and more interesting.

Auto-tagging. Although the system has always automatically tagged uploaded images and video to help with generation and insights, we are now exposing the tags to users to (1) facilitate searching (2) provide greater transparency into how the system works to allow you to better collaborate with it.

Transitions. In addition to animating elements within scenes, we now animate the transitions between scenes automatically. This increases production value. We also allow users to edit transitions as you see fit.

Product shadows. We have increased the quality of the shadow automatically applied onto product pack shots, as well as extended the shadow options to (1) blur drop shadow (2) solid drop shadow (3) colored stroke (4) hover shadow. This improves the production value of the generated output significantly.

Limbic highlights. The system now automatically detects key words and phrases and highlights them in generated ideas with appropriate brand kit colors.

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2. Move things around!

Quick trim. Users will now see the current scene when they opt to swap a video clip from the source video. This allows for small adjustments before and after the current selected clip and significantly faster tweaking of video clips used in ideas.

Free form editor. Users can now select the “move” icon in the editor to pop open advanced editing controls. Note that when making such edits, they apply only to one format at a time unlike normal edits which automatically apply to all formats. These allow for considerably more control over the final ideas than was possible previously with “locked” templates:

  • Adding additional images and text into a scene
  • Freeform moving around of all elements 
  • Controlling layers and moving elements backwards and forwards

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3. Powerful new brand kits

Generate & approve brand kit. Users can now generate brand kits (combining their logos, fonts, colors and graphics into “mockups”) on demand to provide greater control over the look and feel of their ideas. 

Google fonts integration. Users can now browse a curated list of 20+ top Google fonts as well as search the entire Google fonts library of 1,000+ fonts from within Pencil. This reduces reliance on TTF/OTF files which some users may not have access to.

Custom backgrounds & buttons library. Users can now choose from a range of 50+ custom (animated!) graphic backgrounds and buttons that match their brand identity from within Pencil. All custom graphics are automatically skinned with colors from the user’s brand kit. This significantly increases the production value of ideas. Users can also upload their own background images as JPG/PNG files.

Royalty free music library. Users can now browse a curated list of popular instrumental songs across genres and select those they wish to be used in the generation of their ideas. All songs have been licensed and cleared for public use. Users can also upload their own music into their brand kits as MP3/WAV files.

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4. Powerful new copy kits

Improved GPT3 implementation. We now ask users for only 2 things to generate copy - a “brand description” of up to 300 characters and 3 “product descriptions” of up to 100 characters each. From this an unlimited amount of new copy lines for your ads can be generated. 

Modular copy kits. Users can now save groups of copy lines as a “copy kit” and load these into briefs instantly. This is great if you have specific copy for different sub-brands, product SKUs, audience segments or customer journey stages - you can have a copy kit for each.

Improved “fill from URL”. We’ve improved the filtering behind how we pull branding and content from your website automatically so it takes you less time to finish setting up a new copy kit.

Narrative generation. Users can now generate copy in specific “narrative” stories that have a beginning, middle and end when used in their video ads. We are launching with 3 different narrative types you can experiment with in your ads:

  • Attention-Benefit. This narrative seeks to grab attention and then land a product benefit
  • Problem-Solution. This narrative seeks to articulate a customer problem and then explain how your product provides the solution
  • Provoke-Satisfy. This narrative tries to trigger a response from your audience by making a bold or unexpected statement, with justification

An easy, fast, obvious user experience

1. Additional geographic AWS clusters to improve speed & performance

Generating and editing video in the browser in near real time is a technical challenge and can be a bit slow. Users on the East and West coasts of the US as well as in Europe should experience a platform speedup as we’ve provisioned additional infrastructure to lower response times.

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2. Refined user experience

Refreshed UI. We’ve re-skinned the platform based on our observations of the behaviors and bottlenecks of users over the last few months. From providing previews of ideas inside briefs to showing predictions on each idea and allowing multi-select and batch export of ideas, we’ve made a ton of small usability improvements.

Universal “strength meters”. We’ve offered a “strength meter” to help users decide how many, and which types of assets to add to your briefs for some time. We’ve now added strength meters to your brand kits and copy kits as well to help you build great inputs for the AI and achieve great outputs.

Strength meter explanations. A lot of users like the strength meter but didn’t know what to do to improve a “low” score. Hovering over strength meters now provides a variety of short tips on what to do to improve your brand, assets and copy to generate the best possible ads.

Step-by-step briefs. Although briefing is still a simple 1-page process, we’ve now broken this out into 3 clear steps with lots of tips, advice and previews to help you brief well and brief fast.

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We are super excited by these latest features and hope you find them useful in scaling your Q3 campaigns. If you’d like to try Pencil out, try it for free here or request a demo here to get started. And please keep letting us know what else you need in 2021!

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